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Start up, Don! Start up!

Dr. Vasily Vysokov, president of the Board of Directors of Center-invest Bank and chairman of the Commission for Economic Development, Enterprise and Innovation of the Rostov Region’s Public Chamber, spoke about the “Start up, Don!” concept at the youth forum “Rostov 2012. 100% Energy”.

Center-invest Bank has supported startups in southern Russia since 2011, when it launched its “Start-up” programme. This programme has already provided more than 100 entrepreneurs with preferential loans totalling approximately RUR150m. In addition, the bank’s Advice Centre holds 50 free seminars every year, which have been attended by more than 600 people to date.

In 2011, the American president, Barack Obama, launched a job creation initiative called Startup America. This programme envisages extensive public support for startups. Americans call startups “makers of history” and “national heroes”, believing them to be the main driver of their nation’s economic development, and that these companies create the most attractive jobs in the world.

In the same way, Center-invest Bank believes that the Rostov region’s main competitive advantage is its entrepreneurs. The bank regularly holds training events for entrepreneurs, and it draws on best international practice to promote job creation on the basis of new technologies.

This parallel is deserving of attention, as Center-invest Bank has always applied best international practice. The bank began working with SMEs back in 2007. Today, more than 50,000 SMEs and self-employed individuals in southern Russia are Center-invest Bank customers. Center-invest Bank ranks first in Russia for services for SMEs and in fifth place for volume of SME lending. In 2011 Center-invest Bank accounted for 40% of the long-term loans made to Don region SMEs for investment in the modernization of industrial and manufacturing facilities.

Center-invest Bank works closely with schools and higher education institutions. More than 6000 schoolchildren are studying business basics with the textbook Small Business: Enterprise for All for Schoolchildren, written by Center-invest Bank specialists, and every year the bank holds a business plan competition for schoolchildren and students.

In 2012 Center-invest Bank was instrumental in the Rostov region joining the Youth Business Russia programme, run by the International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF). Center-invest Bank also became one of the regional partner organisations, working together with governmental and non-governmental bodies and higher education institutions from the Rostov region. Under this programme, new entrepreneurs can obtain unsecured loans of up to RUR300,000 with a 12% interest rate and a grace period, as well as advice and mentoring by experienced business people.

Promoting enterprise in southern Russia is one of Center-invest Bank’s priorities under its Strategy for the Modernization of SMEs in Southern Russia, and it is of considerable importance to the bank’s own sustainable development in the region.